ROCKETS REBUILD

Media screw-up points to systemic crisis for Rockets organization

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Here's how lousy things are going for the tail-spinning, last-place Houston Rockets. Earlier this week, AT&T SportsNet's website listed a game between the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets. Huh?

Astros Rockets TV Guide Photo by Ken Hoffman

They probably thought the Astros were the only team the Rockets can beat these days.

It's a distant memory lost in current despair, but the Rockets actually were pretty decent at the start of this season. On Feb. 4, the Rockets beat the Grizzlies, 115-103, on the road in Memphis. The Rockets record was 11-10, in the middle of the Western Conference standings, in solid position for a playoff spot.

Since then? Get comfortable, I'm about to go all Charlie Pallilo on you.

The Rockets proceeded to reel off a franchise-record 20 consecutive losses. Things haven't gotten any better. The Rockets now rest in peace in last place in the Western Conference with a 15-44 record, the worst mark in the entire NBA.

Let's see, 15 minus 11, carry the 1, move the decimal point, if X equals Y squared … the Rockets are 4-34 since their inexplicably competitive start.

Now 4-34 isn't just a rough patch of a typically long NBA season. It's a very large sample size, especially considering this is a shortened season with a 72-game schedule. Since that 11-10 start, the Rockets are playing at a catastrophic .105 winning percentage.

The all-time record for worst winning percentage was set by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2011-12. The Bobcats won 7 games and lost 59 for a .106 winning percentage that lockout-shortened season. The worst record for a full 82-game schedule is held by the Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73 for a .109 winning percentage in 1972-73.

This is some way for the Rockets to celebrate their golden anniversary in Houston. The team was born in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets and moved to H-Town in 1971.

The Rockets have earned every bit of this woeful season the hard way: new coach, new general manager, bad trades, bad behavior, no draft picks and lots and lots of injuries. But hold on, the Rockets aren't just a straight-up, won-loss dumpster fire, they're a bettor's nightmare, too. The Rockets have the NBA's worst record, 19-40, against the Vegas line. If you wagered $100 on every game for the Rockets to cover, you'd be $2,500 in the hole. If you wisely bet $100 against the Rockets every game, you'd be only $1,910 to the good. That's Vegas, you can't win for losing.

The Rockets have lost 29 games by double digits, including Wednesday night's 112-89 drubbing by the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. The Rockets are equal opportunity floppers, with a 7-22 record at home and an almost identical 8-22 record on the road.

The Rockets aren't rebuilding, they're a demolition site. Not one Rockets player Wednesday night was on the roster last year. The Rockets aren't tanking, they're just an abysmal team.

Not one Rockets draft choice in the past 10 years is still on the team. Rockets rookies don't last long in Houston. They shouldn't buy a house or sign an apartment lease here. Smarter to find a place to stay on Airbnb.

Mercifully, the Rockets have only 13 games left this year. They will be underdogs in 12 of them. Circle April 27 on your calendar. The Rockets might be favored when the hopeless Minnesota Timberwolves visit Toyota Center. Good seats available.

Ah, but there's a silver lining to this cloudy, overcast season, right? Finishing out of the playoffs with one of the worst records should give the Rockets a top draft pick, maybe even the No. 1 overall selection, right?

Not so fast, Mr. TV Weatherman. Even if the Rockets end up dead last, they stand only a 25 percent chance of landing the first pick. Since the start of the NBA's draft lottery system in 1985, the team with the worst record got the first pick only six times.

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Houston went yard several times

Astros take series from Angels with a home run parade

Houston homered their way to another series win Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After losing the opener then winning an exciting game Tuesday night, the Astros were seeking another series victory by winning the rubber match on Wednesday. They would blast homers all through the night, pushing them over the Angels in the finale.

Final Score: Astros 9, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 20-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Andrew Heaney (1-3)

Astros grab an early lead, Urquidy exits with injury

Houston made early noise in Wednesday night's game, with Jose Altuve turning around the very first pitch of the bottom of the first inning for a solo homer. A two-out single later in the inning set up Yuli Gurriel for his seventh home run and 30th RBI of the season, putting the Astros out to an early 3-0 lead.

Jose Urquidy looked in control through the first three innings, allowing just two hits while maintaining the lead. However, after recording the second out of the fourth, he would be visited by training and coaching staff on the mound before being removed, later diagnosed with posterior shoulder discomfort. Brandon Bielak would quickly enter the game, picking up where Urquidy left off by keeping the Angels off the board.

Tucker stays hot as Bielak locks in out of the bullpen

Still 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Kyle Tucker would extend his recent hot streak by putting two more runs on the board with a blast to extend the lead to 5-0. Bielak remained in the game in the top of the seventh, having allowed just one hit while retiring all other batters since entering in the top of the fourth. He made it through that inning, putting Los Angeles down 1-2-3, and stayed on the mound in the top of the eighth.

He wouldn't be able to get any further, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, putting runners on the corners and prompting Dusty Baker to go to the third pitcher of the night, Andre Scrubb. The Angels would get on the board with a sac fly to make it 5-1, but Scrubb would finish the inning with no further damage.

Astros continue the home run barrage to take the series

Yordan Alvarez would get the run back with Houston's fourth dinger of the night, a solo shot to make it 6-1. They continued to pour it on, with Chaz McCormick joining the home run parade with a three-run blast later in the inning, making it 9-1. Joe Smith would take over on the mound in the top of the ninth, finishing off the lopsided win to give Houston the series victory as they turn the page to another division opponent.

Up Next: Having already faced the rest of the division in 2021 multiple times, the Astros will have their first series against the Texas Rangers starting Thursday at 7:10 PM Central at Minute Maid Park. In the opener, Cristian Javier (3-1, 2.90 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston, going up against Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 4.50 ERA).

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